Mark Zuckerberg has a date with US lawmakers.
It was announced today that the Facebook CEO will testify before the US Congress’ Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee on April 11 regarding how Facebook uses and protects user data.
“This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online,” E&C Committee Chairman Greg Walden and Ranking Member Frank Pallone said in a statement.
The hearing is scheduled for 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm GMT on Wednesday, April 11, or 12am AEST on Thursday, April 12.
Facing the music
Zuckerberg’s summons comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal and the ensuing questions about how Facebook handles user data.
According to a whistleblower, the data of 50 million users was harvested by a third-party app and sold to Cambridge Analytica, which used the data to develop voting profiles on the users. Cambridge Analytica was hired by President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016.
The number of user data obtained by Cambridge Analytica may actually be much higher, however, as Facebook said on April 4 that up to 87 million people, mostly in the US, may have had their information “improperly shared” with the firm.
In the weeks since news of the scandal broke, Facebook has taken steps to address how it handles user data, including overhauling its privacy and security policies so users can better see what data they’re sharing and exercise greater control of their information.
Additionally, Facebook also now lets you disconnect third-party apps in bulk instead of individually, and is also restricting third-party app access to user information on the Facebook platform.
But these steps don’t mean the scrutiny is going away.
In addition to Zuckerberg’s call to testify before Congress, Facebook is also under investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission to see if it violated a 2011 settlement to strengthen user privacy protections. The British Information Commissioner’s Office is also investigating Facebook.
While Zuckerberg will no doubt have plenty of canned answers to the E&C Committee’s questions come April 11, he could shed some light on just what Facebook is doing with our data and what further steps the company plans to take in order to protect it.
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